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Re: Why Stay at Home?

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  • benhartmail
    Hi Edgar, John is right about my intention, so I won t add anything to what he said there. That said, I can briefly answer your question by saying that I
    Message 1 of 37 , Mar 14, 2008
      Hi Edgar,

      John is right about my intention, so I won't add anything to what he
      said there. That said, I can briefly answer your question by saying
      that I don't have much of a principle at present! Whatever I have to
      say on the matter is largely autobiographical in that my current
      stance is largely pragmatic and ad hoc. But you asked, so here goes.

      As you know, I was a member of the RPNA(GM)--I say "was" because the
      court has formally dissolved, thereby releasing me of my membership
      vows. I have no plan on rejoining the church any time soon, not due
      to having a positive disagreement with them over doctrine, but
      because the stakes of joining that kind of church are higher than my
      current understanding can allow. One must be *very* well read on and
      *very* convinced of their doctrines to maintain a separation from
      other churches when one has no church fellowship locally and I
      satisfy neither of those criteria at present. Accordingly, I let the
      doctrines that are more clearly right to me be the ones that guide my
      choice of what to do regarding finding a church in the area. It is
      clearer to me that we should go to church than avoid impure churches
      (especially in the present state of affairs of the church in America)
      and so I'm currently looking for the closest church to where I live
      that I can attend in good conscience. What does that look like?
      Something like this: Psalm-singing, presbyterian, regularity of
      ordinances, little to no membership vows (so I can finally get my
      children baptized), and close to home. I know, the standards are
      low, but then again, I don't profess to have much of a conviction on
      separation principles yet, so it would be irrational for me to
      separate over doctrines I'm not convinced so -- doubly so since I
      don't have the particular doctrines well-worked out over which I
      would separate, nor do I have the separation principle worked out
      yet. So to summarize, I'm looking for the closest church I can put
      up with! :D

      So that's the very short version of where I'm at. I'm sure that I
      could add a few qualifications and clarifications here and there, but
      that's the gist of it. How about yourself? What kind of a principle
      are you working from? In particular, I'm interested in why
      covenanters separate from other presbyterians in the current state of
      the church. I'm reading Alexander Shields' essay on church communion
      (which he wrote after Informatory Vindication) and according to him,
      present context is vital to answer why we do or don't separate from a
      particular church at a time. Sheilds gets a lot of mileage out of
      stressing that separation is only necessary in a broken and
      backslidden state of the church. This raises a question: suppose a
      church has attained a level of purity in 1900, which we can for sake
      of argument quantify to be a purity level of 10. Then in 1950, they
      backslide to a purity level of 2. But now, there's been progress,
      and in 2000, they've retained some of their backslidings and are up
      to a 7 level of purity. Why not join them? They're reforming and so
      going in the right direction, aren't they? Why should we wait until
      they return to the level of 10 before we rejoin?

      Again, I'm interested in hearing from covenanters or anyone who
      separates from other denominations, but especially those who have
      been in situations where you worship alone and don't have regular
      fellowship with "unfaithful" Christians in your area.

      Thanks for your response, Edgar. It's good to hear from you. I sure
      do miss the congregation we had years ago in Albany, before all of
      this stuff happened. C'est la vie.

      Take care and God bless.


      --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Ic Neltococayotl"
      <puritanpresbyterian@...> wrote:
      > Hi Ben!
      > How do you answer both questions for your situation, seeing that you
      > have been/are in them?
      > Peace,
      > Edgar
    • bob_suden
      ... RPNA or RPNA(GM)? Reformed Presbyterian or pseudo presbyterian? Who cares what ... Taking a page from you Ben, on one hand I don t. On the other, there are
      Message 37 of 37 , Mar 22, 2008
        --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "benhartmail"
        <benjamin.hart1@...> wrote:
        > Bob,
        > It's ironic that you, who seem to have such a personal disdain for
        > anything RPNA, refuse to let matters drop with them.
        RPNA or RPNA(GM)? Reformed Presbyterian or pseudo presbyterian?

        Who cares what
        > they're doing, as far as you're concerned?
        Taking a page from you Ben, on one hand I don't. On the other, there
        are still people that remained in the group, who seemed to be largely
        untaught and were/are being led about by the nose of their tacit
        consent. You probably won't agree, but I saw and still see,
        FWIW/somewhat of an obligation to warn people about what's up.

        My original question was
        > regarding issues of unity and separation, and I'd like to keep it at
        > that level.
        Then keep it at that level please, but you do come with a background and

        I find your continual harassing of the RPNA--even if
        > justified to some level--unedifying and obnoxious.
        So what? Or should I say, what if I find your comments maudlin,
        unedifying and unable to come to a decent conclusion?

        You've got a blog
        > to take care of your ranting, perhaps you can keep it there.
        Pot, kettle, black.

        I asked
        > a peaceful question and was hoping for a peaceful discussion.
        > As far as the Effort is concerned, I didn't even bring it up in the
        > first place. Edgar asked how I regard those who've been
        > excommunicated by the RPNA and I gave an honest answer. Could you
        > tell that I was a little confused in how to regard you and I wasn't
        > coming down on a hard-and-fast conclusion?
        Sorry, Ben, your past behavior and efforts preceded you.

        > As for being an RPNA clone: have you forgotten who in the RPNA was
        > most vociferously against whoever wrote the law advocate email?
        > Maybe you'd like to know that that email virtually got me
        > excommunicated and is largely why my two girls remain unbaptized.
        Well, praise the Lord. I am glad to see you have some backbone.
        I was unaware of it.
        But one, some of us really were excommunicated and two, that should have
        clued you in to what kind of outfit the elders have become and what kind
        of sinful wickedness the doctrine of tacit consent would lead to.
        Instead, it seems, you waited till they disbanded and let you go. You
        protested our pseudo presbyterian Perry Mason, but not the elders.

        > Here's some advice from Paul that I think you would do well to heed.
        > "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk
        > worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness
        > and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
        > endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

        Galatians 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to
        the face, because he was to be blamed.
        Your dissimulation or confusion might be well meant, but that is still
        what it is.

        > If you have something edifying to say that will advance my
        > understanding of issues of unity and separation, I'd like to hear
        > what you've got to say.
        ?! No comment.

        Otherwise, it would be best to drop the RPNA
        > polemic. You're almost literally beating a dead horse.

        For someone who defended them and bent over backward to excuse them,
        yes, it would be best to drop the matter or tell others to. But I see
        lessons still to be learned and some haven't learned them. You have
        to get off the dime. Edgar asked you how you see us. You remained in the
        group until they let you go, but we were excommunicated from the body of
        Christ. So which is it?
        That's the point.
        But now you're onto something about unity and separation.
        Well, respectfully we can be so studious that we avoid the real issues.
        That's what I see and have always seen with the objections to the

        Bob S
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